The small of your back is not the most popular area to carry a gun. It does have its fans though, and certainly, there are good arguments to be made by those that like this carrying position.
The small of your back is great for concealment as most types of clothing hang loose around your back, and together with your lower back’s natural indent, it conceals a gun quite nicely. Driving or sitting down for any length of time can be uncomfortable unless you are like me and have a pretty arched back.
Small-of-back holsters can be either IWB or OWB in style, and if you don’t want to call your holster an SOB for all the wrong reasons, you need to pick the right one for you.
Fortunately, we have done our homework and have selected five of the best for you to consider. Some of our choices are specially designed SOB holsters, whereas others can also be carried on the hip or even appendix style if you like to vary your carrying style depending on what you are doing.
Reviews Of The Best Small of Back Holsters From our Research
This holster is made by Cebeci Arms and is made of nylon with a synthetic leather backing. The holster is open at the bottom for longer barrels and it is designed to fit most medium to large semi-autos.
It has three different belt loops so that it can be worn for a vertical or horizontal draw. The retention strap is adjustable, but it is held in place with Velcro, which may not appeal to all users.
The holster is only available in black and is a right-hand draw. Given the three belt holes, it is possible to wear this holster OWB style as well, which gives it some extra versatility. Most nylon holsters tend to be cheaper options compared to Kydex and leather but the Cebeci Arms is well made and is definitely value-for-money. It’s important to note that the holster will not fit pistols with laser attachments.
- Three belt holes for two different draw styles
- Retention strap
- Nylon holsters made for many guns and sizes may fit some guns better than others
The tactical pancake is made by Houston Gun Holsters and is made of soft leather with nylon reinforcing on the outer edges. It’s an IWB holster that is made for a right-hand draw, but it could be used as a left-handed holster. The only small issue would be that the sweat guard is slightly tapered on the right side.
The two clips have a strong grip, and the holster can fit belts of up to 1.75-inches in height. The Houston will fit Glocks from the 19 models up to the 33 and most other makes of pistols in that size range.
A plus is that this design can be worn as a small-of-back holster or IWB style and the very soft leather makes it extremely comfortable to wear. One possible downside to a holster like this is that the retention is not adjustable and so some guns may sit fairly loose.
- One of the more comfortable holsters to wear
- Fits larger belts up to 1.75-inches
- Retention is not adjustable
The Charter Arms Pathfinder is made by the Holster Store and is a fully ambidextrous leather holster. It’s made for the smaller frame S&W revolvers such as the bodyguard .38 and the Lady Smith 649. Other makes of revolvers with the same frame size ( J-frame) should fit as well.
The Pathfinder is pretty rigid, maybe a bit more than most leather holsters but its retention is very good and it could be worn in different styles apart from the SOB.
If you are a small revolver person, the pathfinder is worth trying as a small-of-back holster option, and the price is reasonable for a leather holster.
- Good retention
- Can be worn cross draw and OWB
- Only one cant which may be an issue for people that like a more horizontal angle for SOB carry
The YT Hobby leather holster is available in black and brown but is a right-hand draw-only design. The holster is made in a few different sizes to fit different gun models such as the Glocks, Beretta 92F, and 1911 frame pistols.
An unusual feature is that the holster can fit belt sizes up to 1.8-inches in height so if you like a wider belt, the YT Hobby is a good choice. Another advantage is that the trigger guard and barrel are fully covered, which is best for comfort and drawing safety.
In terms of quality, the holster is reinforced where wear and tear is likely to happen and has double stitching in all the right places. Due to the cant, this holster is an SOB-only holster and would not really work in any other carry style, but it’s really good for what it’s designed for.
- Different sizes to fit a large number of pistols
- Can fit belts up to 1.85-inches in height
- Good price
- Did not find any except that the belt loops are a bit stiffer than most leather holsters
This leather holster is an IWB design and is available in three colors, brown which is pictured above, and a black or orange crocodile-embossed style, which is unusual. The quality of the leather is good but it is thinner compared to most leather holsters.
The thinner leather is very comfortable but could be a problem for reholstering because a tight belt could deform the holster when your gun is removed. The holster is made to fit most compact and smaller auto-pistols and would probably be the best fit for subcompacts.
A clip holster is versatile and can be worn in different carry styles if you don’t want a holster that restricts you to SOB carry only. This is a pretty simple holster and is one of the most affordable leather holsters on the market. The only issue that you may have with SOB carry is that the cant is not adjustable to accommodate drawing preferences from the SOB position.
- Versatile. Can be worn in many carry styles
- The cant is not adjustable
Most holsters that are designed specifically for SOB carry will have a 30 degree forward cant. This results in your gun grip pointing almost 90 degrees upwards. This type of setup is obviously tailored towards the majority as this is the best cant taking everything into consideration for your average shooter.
With your gun sitting at a 30-degree cant and reaching for your gun with your palm facing inward, most people find that this is best in terms of balance between comfort and practical draw speed and access. If you are not your average Joe and you have different ideas regarding the cant, or you like to draw from your back with your palm facing outwards, we still have a few choices for you.
A Point to Consider For an SOB Holster
If you are a right-handed shooter and you want to have an SOB rig that you draw with your palm facing out, it would mean buying a left-handed holster. This is not necessarily a problem but it will mean that your holster has only one use.
If you get a conventional SOB holster, then you can also carry it appendix or cross-draw style if you wanted. Again, this would be a concern for people that want a holster with a bit more versatility.
Another comfort issue is the size of your gun. If your everyday carry gun is a full-size revolver or auto-pistol, you can carry your gun SOB style occasionally. If SOB is going to be your default carry position, then it is best to carry a smaller pistol like a compact. Carrying a full-size auto-pistol with a 19 round magazine will have a long grip. At least in my experience, this becomes unbearable.
Generally speaking, SOB holsters do not have additional retention features simply because they can make drawing from behind your back a lot slower and more complicated. The upside is that your gun tends to be more stable at your back and is less likely to move around when you are active. However, if retention is very important to you, then check out our first review, as it is the only holster option on our list that has a retention strap.
A Comfortable Carry Method
Normally I like to provide a selection that covers all materials such as Kydex/polymer, leather, and nylon. It may be a personal bias on my part, but I think there is a reason why holsters that are made specifically for SOB style are leather, and a smaller number will be nylon.
This is just because its leather and nylon are more comfortable for the back position. If you really want to try a Kydex holster, then choose a thin one with a clip, but I am sure that experience will leave you agreeing with the majority of holster manufacturers. Softer materials are the best way to go for SOB carry.
That’s our round-up of the best SOB holsters. If you are investigating SOB holsters for the first time, then perhaps you should try out the different SOB draw cants before choosing your preferred holster.
You can experiment with an unloaded gun in different angles at your back to determine whether you are the average person who finds a horizontal gun position works best or if you are a minority that prefers more vertical cants.